I took out a credit card in the UAE with First Gulf Bank, however I had to leave the UAE sooner than expected and was unable to clear the CC before I left.
Prior to leaving I had always made payments on time, and had asked how to make payments if outside of the UAE. I asked this over the phone and via email and was not given a solution, basically you cannot pay a credit card bill for FGB if outside the country. This has led me to miss 6 months payments and my outstanding balance is now £8396 with interest continuing to accrue.
I have been contacted by a UK Law firm who state that they have been instructed to recover this debt. I have asked for proof of the debt etc which was provided. I was given 21 days to make contact or risk court proceedings etc. I proposed to pay £150 per month as a minimum and more if and when I could afford it. This was rejected on the grounds that it would take too long for me clear the debt. They want the balance paid in 12 months, and in ‘extreme’ cases it may be extended to 24. I was then told that FGB offer ‘substantial’ discounts if the debt is settled in full. I queried what percentage the discount would be and it worked out to be about £1200 off of the amount owed.
I can afford to pay the amount that I proposed; I don’t understand why there has been a time limit placed on the repayment of the debt, after all is wasn’t a loan and there was no time limit specified at the time of application. I have always been good at managing my debt and the thought of court action/CCJ/or worse as a result of this makes me feel sick. I need advice as to where I legally stand, but for all the forums about this type of issue there isn’t any updates or information about solicitors used or outcomes. What shall I do now?
While I cannot provide you any legal advice, I understand your questions and concerns, and believe I can offer some advice.
A couple of quick questions first.
I am assuming you are now living in the UK. Do you have any other debts in the UK?
Do you own any property in the UK?
The UK law firm collecting the for the credit card, do you know, or have they acknowledged they bought the debt and now own it? Or are they just the collection arm for the bank?
What is the firm’s name?
Onto what you can do and your options.
If the law firm is collecting a debt from the UAE, they may sound tough, but they are limited in what they can do. They may threaten you with a CCJ, etc, however, for debts outside the UK, they cannot obtain a CCJ. If for any reason they did try for a CCJ, you then can look at including the debt in a debt management plan or some other debt management scheme.
If they own the debt, then yes, they could seek out a CCJ. You could also go to the courts, and show what you can afford to pay, and that you are trying to resolve the issue. The courts in the UK are more sympathetic to the debtor. Even if the law firm were granted the CCJ, the courts can tell them to accept your payment as this is what you can afford.
The issue will be, do the law firm own the debt, or are they just collecting it??
If you get forced into a financial corner for whatever reason, you have all the insolvency laws and rights that are here in the UK at your disposal.
Get back to me and let me know, and we can look closer at this.
Jon Emge is an experienced UK debt advisor who has helped thousands and thousands of people in the UK to deal with problem debt. Jon specialises in finding good solutions for problem debt using a variety of UK specific techniques.
If you have a question you’d like to ask about how to get out of UK debt, just use the online form. I’m happy to help you for free.
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2 thoughts on “UK Law Firm is Trying to Collect on My Dubai Debts”
Thank you for your advice thus far.
Yes, I am now living in the UK; I have two other credit cards, as well as car finance and I own my home (well, via a mortgage). The UK law firm are Coyle White Devine and they are acting on behalf of First Gulf Bank. In their initial letter to me they have stated:
“We have been instructed by our client to engage with you and to make arrangements for the repayment of your credit card debt with our client. We hope that you will engage with us for this purpose…
In terms of prospective legal proceedings, please note that our client’s position is fully reserved in terms of the choice between:
(a) Debt recovery proceedings to be issued before Northampton (CCMCC) County Court; or
(b) Bankruptcy proceedings to be issued before the nearest County Court to your home with insolvency jurisdiction.
As outlined in my first message to you, I ‘engaged’ with them and offered a repayment proposal which was rejected. Based on what you have said, it seems as if they do not own the debt, however I am worried that they will issue a CCJ without me knowing about it.
What I am trying to avoid is any action that will result in adversely affecting my credit, particularly as though I can manage the debt that I have. And I have worked hard not to get consumed by my debt. The proposal of £150 was as a minimum payment, to start in December, with a view to me making higher payments in the near future. Ideally, I would like to avoid any debt management schemes as I know this reflects negatively on your credit file (don’t know if this is possible, or if I’m deluding myself).
I just need to know the best way to move forward with this situation. I don’t want to ignore it as I know it won’t go away, but not sure what my next steps should be.
It seems more and more that the banks in the UAE are using law firms in the UK to attempt to collect unpaid accounts. Unfortunately knowing this, doesn’t make your situation any better, or ease your mind.
Again, to my knowledge no one has actually been taken to court for collecting these accounts. You may wish to seek out legal advice here in the UK, just to confirm what these firms can and cannot do.
From what you have stated about your situation, owning property, etc, I agree you do not want this to get to an insolvency or CCJ level, and again, I cannot see how it could be enforced to that level as it is a debt from another country. If the law firm owned the debt, meaning they bought it, then yes, they could follow through with their threats. They state on behalf of their client, which tends to make me believe they are just the collection arm.
If they were to take you to court, you would be notified. By appearing and stating you have offered £150 a month and can show this via a detailed income and expense sheet, the courts should state the arrangement is fair and for the law firm to accept it.
I don’t see it getting to that stage, however, as I mentioned, it may be worth it to speak to a solicitor for the legal side of things.
There are others on this site that have posted their experiences about your exact same situation. It may be a good idea to read the threads, and even contact some of them as a couple of them have have been researching this topic extensively.
Stay in contact with me and let me know as the matter progresses.